Motivating Past Rejection

Everyone Deals with Rejection: Motivating Towards Success

by Barry Maher

Maybe you’re in sales or in management or you’re an entrepreneur. Or maybe you’re “just an employee”—one of those under-appreciated types who usually make the difference in the success or failure of the organization. No matter what you do, this article is for you.

A few years back, Selling Power magazine did a feature on me. The opening caption read, “To his powerful and famous clients, Barry Maher is simply the best sales trainer in the business.” Now as many of you know, I write and speak and consult on a lot of issues that have nothing to do with sales—communications, management, leadership, etc.  Even so, since Selling Power is one of the top sales publications in the country—maybe in the world—I thought that quote was pretty great. I still use it every chance I get. I work it into casual conversations, slipping it in cleverly and unobtrusively. Someone will say, “Nice weather we’re having” or “Think the rain will hurt the rhubarb,” and I’ll say, “Speaking of weather, I was wondering whether or not you’d heard that Selling Power magazine said, ‘To his powerful and famous clients, Barry Maher is simply the best sales trainer in the business.’”

You need to be subtle about it.

Well, now that I’ve worked the quote in here a couple of times, let me say that shortly after that article first came out, I decided—great and eminent figure that I was—that I should give something back to the community. And directly across the street from me was a community college that just happened to be looking for someone to teach a class in basic selling to their 18 and 19 year old business students. I’d cleared my speaking and consulting schedule to work on the new edition of my novel, Legend, so I was going to be home and available for the entire quarter. The salary was less than a pittance—maybe half a pittance—but I didn’t care about that. I was giving something back.

I submitted an application along with some basic support material. I took the time to walk across the street to interview with the head of the business department. I never mentioned the Selling Power article or a few other credentials that seemed like overkill, but the hiring committee certainly knew that I’d worked with many of the largest and most successful companies in the world, and that I’d spoken to and trained groups of all types and sizes.

They hired somebody else! They turned me down. ME! They rejected me. In favor of somebody who’d probably never sold a single thing in his life and taught the course from an astonishingly incompetent textbook on sales written by someone who didn’t know a whole lot more than he did. REJECTION!


Motivating Past Rejection

The first lesson I would have tried to teach that class would have been about rejection. Because we all get rejected. At a recent sales workshop—one I was hired to do—I asked the attendees what they would like to get out of the session.

“I hate hearing no,” one woman said. “I’m sure most of us do. The best thing you could do for us would be to tell us how we can hear fewer noes.”

“Nothing could be easier,” I said. “Just make fewer sales calls. And in those calls you do make, the first time the prospect says no, just thank him and leave.”

Then I walked over and—with a certain dramatic flare, I thought—scrawled on the whiteboard, “Whoever Hears the Most Noes Gets the Biggest Paycheck.”

“What?” the woman asked in confusion.

“Think about it for a minute,” I said.

“No, I mean what is that supposed to say? I can’t read your writing.”

So much for drama. “Sorry. It says, Whoever Hears the Most Noes Gets the Biggest Paycheck. The leading salesperson in the company is always the one who hears the most noes.

Even outside of sales, the most successful people are usually those who hear the most noes.  Or are at least willing to hear the most noes.

The strategy couldn’t be simpler: Start collecting your noes as soon as possible.

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